The Smash Box, an alternative and more ergonomically sound version of the GameCube controller, had its concept developed all the way back in 2010. The concept, a controller for the GameCube without a joystick and a whole lot more buttons in an ergonomic layo, was and is revolutionary. 


Since 2013, research and development has been underway, and the Smash Box team has been hard at work trying to perfect this controller that could increase the career lifespan of virtually every player that uses it, due to its ergonomic layout.


The public got their first look at the controller in 2016, and since the release trailer, everything was gravy (no pun intended) until a certain individual got involved in the process.

Just over a week after the teaser trailer was launched, Dustin Huffer, the creator of the Smash Box, took a prototype of the controller to EVO 2016. There, Dustin met with Aziz "Hax" Al-Yami, and showed him the controller. 


Hax expressed some interest in the idea, but not using the controller. Five months later, Hax wanted to try out the product.

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On Dec. 24, Hax was brought on as a playtester for the Smash Box when he received his in the mail. ​Two days later, Hax wanted to become business partners with Dustin Huffer and the rest of the Smash Box team


In the next couple of weeks, Hax tried to turn his role as a playtester into a "domineering position" to change the layout of the buttons on the controller.


Hax was changing his proposed layouts before 1:1 scales could even be generated as an example for him to put his fingers on. According to Gravy, Hax "acted as an authoritarian lead designer throughout the time he spent playtesting."


Alyssa "Dr. Biscuits" Hess, an ergonomic consultant for the Smash Box team, summarized her experience working with Hax in a video on YouTube to shed some light on the situation.

Just a few days before Hax went silent on Jan. 6 and stopped communicating with the Smash Box team, he was still actively pushing his ideas forward. On Jan. 3 he sent over a mockup of what he thought the Smash Box could look like to Dustin Huffer, creator of the Smash Box.

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On Jan. 4, Gravy, Biscuits, and Hax hopped on a call to talk about the layout Hax sent over, and the three of them worked on completing a version of the layout that all parties were satisfied with.

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After the call Hax sent over the collective work of himself, Gravy, and Biscuits, to Dustin Huffer.


For the next couple of days up until Jan. 6, Hax was communicating with the Smash Box team. His final contact with the Hit Box team was with Dustin Huffer, where he asked Dustin about how the buttons for the Smash Box were made. 


Around the same time that the Icebox prototype was shown on Reddit, Hax went silent.

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The Icebox Prototype was created by Arhum "WatchingTime" Siddiqi.


Gravy made multiple attempts to contact Hax after he went silent. On Jan. 11, Hax said that he hadn't been responding because he was playing "poker."


On Jan. 14, Gravy sent over a mockup of what their collective work from Jan. 4 would look like in physical form.

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​Two days later, Hax contacted Gravy again asking for the most recent version of the Smash Box.


Then, on Jan. 19, Hax released an update video detailing recent news about his hand injuries, his new partnership with WatchingTime and James Taylor, ​and his current prototype of his new project, the B0XX.


​For an abridged version of the Hax update trailer, c​lick here.

After the update video, Hax explained to Gravy personally that the Smash Box was just a "backup plan" for him.

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Unfortunately for the Hit Box/Smash Box team, this turn of events effectively turned a majority of the Smash community against the Smash Box. ​When the Smash Box team put out a video announcing the Kickstarter date for the project, the video quickly amassed more dislikes than likes, and the comment section was flooded with negative Smash Box comments and pro-B0XX comments.

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Dustin Huffer and the Smash Box team "just wanted to help [Hax's] hands." They didn't have him sign a contract, or a non-compete clause because "as a grassroots company, [they saw] people as people."


When asked if Hit Box had any desire to pursue the matter legally, Huffer said "Clearly this isn't something we'd want to do. It's a very expensive and long process to go through the legal system. However, if it's necessary, we'll be forced to go through that process to pursue justice." 


In his closing thoughts, Dustin Huffer had this to say: 


"I don't regret the act of helping Hax play Melee again at all. Bringing a fallen veteran back is one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of this project. Helping people is what makes all the difference in life. Despite all this we just simply can't believe how disrespectful he has been and how little regard he has for us after we've done everything to help him. He truly only cares about himself and money."

I reached out to Hax for a comment on the situation, but there was no response.

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This is not the only instance of questionable activity from Hax. Tom "tompas92" Passarelli had dealings with both the Smash Box and the B0XX teams. Tompas stated that Hax "had a pretty adamant desire to abstain from entering the legality conversation in the hopes of forcing a recall on Hit Box in the future with a video criticizing its functionality suggesting it ought to be banned."


For more information on tompas' experience, and his own project he's starting, click ​here.


Screencaps and images courtesy of Dustin White, Dustin Huffer, and Alyssa Hess